The Toronto Raptors showed that they're capable of beating more than just the dregs of the East as they took down the Memphis Grizzlies tonight by a final score of 99 to 86. Jonas Valanciunas led the way with a season high 23 points and after an uneven first half, the Dinos closed off the Grizz down the stretch to get the W.
Things didn't start off so great for Toronto, who struggled to adjust to Memphis style of play early, turning the ball over and getting outworked on the glass. However timely baskets by Valanciunas, and a nice boost off the bench from Greivis Vasquez kept Toronto hanging around, and a late push by the Dinos actually had them up by three points at the half.
In many ways it seemed lucky that Toronto was ahead considering they had been inconsistent at both ends of the court, and their wings, DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross had been completely blanketed by the Grizzlies' defensive schemes.
But there they were, starting the third quarter with the lead, and after a back and forth tertiary period, Toronto began to make some noise.
Jonas Valanciunas, solid all game, started making some jump shots, opening up the court for Toronto. Amir Johnson acted as point forward a bit, finding cutters and creating havoc for the Grizzlies' big men, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, due his mobility.
And as DeMar got going a bit, and Vasquez continued to have an impact, Kyle Lowry decided to put this one away, turning a back-and-forth, neck-and-neck affair, into a Toronto win. He made big play after play down the stretch and finished with 22 points, 12 assists and 7 rebounds, yes, three short of another triple-double.
More importantly, he and his team finished with the win, one of their most impressive on the season.
Once Toronto got rolling late in the fourth, Memphis started to come apart and the Raps took advantage, clamping down on D and executing to perfection to win their 11th game in 14 tries.
The win also gives the Raps another half game cushion on the Chicago Bulls, who sit now a game and a half back of TO for the third spot in the East.